Heather Beach, director – OSH at UBM, talks to Health and Safety Week about the importance of occupational health and what she hopes to see from the week – including companies getting behind the initiative, and making health issues more prominent, especially in a mostly negative press. Here’s a preview of the interview:
1. Health and Safety Week was established in 2014 – what inspired you to set it up?
I’ve been involved with the profession one way or another for twenty years and I have seen it really develop over that time. I feel very strongly that it’s completely vilified in the media for what are now, largely unfair reasons. I want to use this week to ensure that the industry gets a better press, as well as working to get the professions, associations and media aligned during one week to discuss the same issues.
There are a lot of associations and publications in this sector and given that there is a lot of altruism present in this sector, I think it makes sense for them to try and work together – at least to some extent. It’s also great to have this as a focal event during the Safety & Health Expo in June.
2. This year, Health & Safety Week is focusing on occupational health. What are the main issues in this area?
Well, it’s a huge area of concern. The industry has really focused on the ‘safety’ part of health and safety, whereas the health side actually has a much greater number of fatalities associated with it. The reality is that businesses and health and safety professionals themselves aren’t necessarily equipped to deal with it.
The obvious thing with safety is that there is an immediate impact, while the big issue with health is that it’s long latency – you can do something today that might not impact you for twenty years as well as the confusion over whether your illness stems from something work-related or something you did at home.
Fundamentally, occupational health-related diseases result in far more deaths than safety-related incidents. There aren’t really any confirmed statistics on this –the HSE shows approximately 13,000 deaths a year and that’s deemed to be on the conservative side.
It’s hard to know how the industry is doing now because we’re measuring illness from 30 years ago. All you can do is start measuring from now and make sure that we don’t have the same issues in 20 years’ time as we do today.
Read the full interview at the Health & Safety Week 2015 website.
What makes us susceptible to burnout?
In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.
We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.